Democratic values under threat

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

MAY 1 — I congratulate Barisan Nasional (BN) on winning the Hulu Selangor by-election last week. They mounted the greatest by-election campaign that money could possibly buy, and it appears that money for them did grow on trees. It was no object.

There is no disputing the fact that my favourite candidate, Zaid Ibrahim, lost the contest by 1725 votes.

The people exercised their right to choose the man to represent them in the Dewan Rakyat. That was what they wanted, and good luck to them. They deserve each other. But a question that simply refused to go away, as I watched the campaign unfolding before my eyes, was how much of the Barisan Nasional victory reflected a genuine return of confidence in the BN government, and how much of it had to do with the financial inducements and promises of more goodies where they came from.

Money was scattered with manic abandon like so much confetti at a society wedding? I must confess in all seriousness and fairness that BN had superb organisation where it mattered — on the ground. Their election machinery also enjoyed the great advantage of being lubricated with the best engine oil that money could buy — money itself.

Zaid gave an extremely good account of himself and there was certainly no shame in losing in an unequal contest. The whole apparatus of the Federal Government was ranged against him in Hulu Selangor.

Zaid lost the by-election in circumstances that were a damning indictment of Malaysian society’s declining ethical standards. BN leaders were obviously in no mood to allow the little niggling ethical or moral niceties to stand in the way of their larger design for Selangor.

After many by-election reverses, they finally found a rich harvest, no pun intended, in the Felda oil palm schemes. Years ago, the settlers were persuaded by the BN administration of Selangor to part with their land in a multi-million ringgit development scheme that went sour.

The land owners lost their land and the shirts on their backs. It was a typical greed-driven BN so called ‘fail safe’ get rich quick venture that incompetence, avarice and corruption all conspired to wreck even before the first brick was laid.

These settlers who had waited for their money for the last fifteen years, thirteen of which under successive BN state governments, quivered with excitement when they were told openly that there would be an initial small down payment with the rest on the way if BN won the Hulu Selangor seat.

I wonder what the Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chiefs thought about all this business of cash for votes, but I expect they have already decided, in a show of ‘independence’ that they say they are, that it is probably not worth making an issue over such an entrenched Umno cultural norm. Please do not take my word for it, but Umno does not deny that it has problems with money politics. Hulu Selangor is but an extension of that culture. In spite of claims to the contrary by the government, Malaysia is not an open, democratic nation.

That is precisely why the election authorities did not see fit to step in smartly and disqualify the bribe giver and declare Zaid Ibrahim the winner. Evidence of serious breaches of both the elections as well as anti-corruption acts is clear for all to see. I reminded of a saying which goes something like this. “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” The person who coined this could well have been thinking of our EC and the MACC.

An electoral victory it might have been for BN, but to me it is a victory as hollow as it is immoral. If this is an example of BN’s cavalier approach to ethical issues, then we are being short changed on 1 Malaysia. It will remain a mere slogan without strong moral and ethical underpinnings. The financial seduction of voters is a criminal offence, and for Najib to claim that he was not bribing the voters but merely solving their problems is disingenuous, but as I have pointed out on another occasion, Najib does not disappoint us in his ability to perfect the art of the possible. To him, the means justify the end.

The government has admitted to spending millions on a makeover of its image overseas, but it is money down the drain if it persists in behaviour which is patently at odds with international best practice. In this case Mr. Prime Minister, you really have to lead by example or give up 1 Malaysia as a lost cause.

  1. #1 by Cinapek on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 11:00 am

    “BN leaders were obviously in no mood to allow the little niggling ethical or moral niceties to stand in the way of their larger design for Selangor.”

    Selangor only? Nay, YB Tunku. It is much more than that. Firstly, Najib needed a win badly on the anniversary of his PMship to boost the image he is on a winning formula.

    Secondly, BN cannot allow PR to win as that could trigger off another momentum that could derail the GE13 that BN plans to call soon.

    Thirdly, with all those PKR frogs jumping, BN needs to build on that momentum to entice more PKR frogs to jump by showing these greedy, weak minded frogs they are in the winners camp. BN hopes to be able to highlight these frog jumping processions continously to build an image that PKR is failing – again leading up to the GE13.

    Selangor is only part of the larger picture.

  2. #2 by limkamput on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 11:25 am

    Tunku, sometimes I just don’t get it. Your opening sentence should be: I am disgusted by BN’s victory in the Hulu Selangor by election. It is more honest and more to the point.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 11:30 am

    Aiyoh, give face lah 2 d EC n d MACC chiefs
    No need 2 whack them so teruk mah
    Mana they dare 2 complain; NR will larf @ them n said – u no like what I did ah, vamoose lah; where can u get such a big fat cosy job n fanciful titles, if not 4 UmnoB’s patronage; sweep longkang also no one wants, tahu kah

  4. #4 by k1980 on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 12:07 pm

    An Umno division has called on MCA to leave Barisan Nasional following its failure to deliver the Chinese votes in the recently-concluded Hulu Selangor by-election.
    Paya Besar Umno division chief Ahmad Tajuddin Sulaiman told MCA to stop making “silly excuses.”

    He said MCA should leave the ruling coalition for not mustering Chinese support for the BN candidate.

    As a result, he claimed that BN managed to retake the seat by a slim majority.

    Ahmad Tajuddin said MCA’s best option was to withdraw from the coalition, and not continue to be a burden on BN.

    “Leave BN to prevent yourselves from becoming a burden to the other component parties. Don’t point fingers at others for your own failure.

    “They (MCA leaders) should admit their mistakes and not blame others,” he said, in referrence to their recent comments blaming Perkasa for the loss of Chinese support.

    Sorry, Ahmad. CSL is too busy with Angela Yam to bother about your challenge

  5. #5 by frankyapp on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 2:27 pm

    Sure democratic values are under threat. I think it’s under pretty great threat.As long as the corruptor and the swindler are pretty power-centred and greedy and can still shut up all ugly transparency,our democratic values will go further down the drain. The nation,the people and the voters must not treat democracy as a kind of “main main /play play” for short term selfish gain but must treat democray like a peaceful and prosperous livelihood to live in freedom of expression,movement,belief and the elected government must be transparent,accountable and available. Until this’s happening.the nation democracy will deteriorate further down the sewage

  6. #6 by sotong on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 3:01 pm

    Tunku…Kamlan lived up to his name and won!

  7. #7 by dawsheng on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 3:50 pm

    Winner takes all, stop being a sore loser!

  8. #8 by k1980 on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 4:12 pm

    New school song for SRJK(C) Rasa in Hulu Selangor

    Rasa sayang, hey! Rasa sayang sayang hey,
    Hey lihat PM datang, rasa sayang RM3juta hey.
    Rasa sayang, hey! Rasa sayang sayang hey,
    Hey lihat PM datang, rasa sayang RM3juta hey.

    Anak gadis Mongol di luar pagar,
    Ambil C4 tolong campakkan,
    Saya budak baru belajar,
    Kalau salah tolong tunjukkan.

  9. #9 by boh-liao on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 6:24 pm

    HS buy election, BN won, PR lost
    All over @ d moment, unless ZI succeeds in getting d court 2 rule d result null n void
    Meanwhile smile

  10. #10 by rahmanwang on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 7:20 pm

    Yes Tunku.
    This HS buy election is the dirtiest form of vote rigging,vote buying by Barisan Nasional.
    All I wish is Datuk Zaid not to give up.
    Just like Khalid Ibrahim who lost the first time.He made it on the GE12.In politics one has to have patience.
    Now go plan for GE13.

  11. #11 by monsterball on Sunday, 2 May 2010 - 1:03 am

    That’s telling Najib off sarcastically and in style by Tunku Aziz.

  12. #12 by limkamput on Sunday, 2 May 2010 - 1:38 am

    You ¾ ball, I am being sarcastic just like Tunku lah.

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 2 May 2010 - 12:50 pm

    Did Najib buy Hulu Selangor? Of course he did. But honestly it was not only thing he did. Najib also forced both MIC and BN to move forward instead of being paralyzed by old formula.

    MIC was basically paralyzed by Samy Vellu hold on power. While the change is not what the community wanted or even what MIC wanted, its still better than the status quo. UMNO dominance of BN component parties moved up a notch. It is truly ketuanan Melayu in BN now. BN is now what right-wing UMNO always wanted it to be rather than the marriage of equal it was forced into upon independence.

    Watch in the future the right-wing sell the idea that nothing is wrong with idea of Ketuanan Melayu if you understand it well. They will sell the ideology that Ketuanan Melayu does not mean racist, does not mean discrimination, does not mean not being fair to other races. They will say its about allocation by Malays and that Malays know how to be fair and has proven they can be fair. They will sell the idea that its racist they are prejudiced against for not being able to befair.

    What happened is that Najib actually moved one step closer to Ketuanan Melayu ideology..

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 2 May 2010 - 4:38 pm

    Sarcasm is an ironical taunt. It is being reproachful towards someone deserving of being reproached by giving him an apparent opposite treatment like the way Tunku did by “congratulating” Barisan Nasional (BN) on winning the Hulu Selangor by-election, which in the rest of his article he derides by showing how lots of monies were spent to procure the marginal victory.

    Sarcasm has therefore three elements:

    1. a legitimate target (in tunku’s case) the BN and its victory in Ulu Selangor;
    2. a praise (for opposite effect) by way of congratulations; and
    3. a complete reversal of the praise by explaining in detail how the congratulations given was un-deserved and in fact merit severe criticisms as Tunku did to point out the use of money!

    Lim Kam Put’s posting in #2 – ‘sometimes I just don’t get it. Your opening sentence should be: “I am disgusted by BN’s victory in the Hulu Selangor by election. It is more honest and more to the point’ – has none of the above 3 elements. ‘ Tunku is not a target of criticisms in trhe way like BN of having done wrong. Lim kam Put did not praise him. In fact he chastised him in posting 2 on why he congratulated BN, which only goes to show that the commentator was all to quick, asa customary, to shoot from his mouth before his brain could process and digest the overall context and intent of the writer, or worse still has no capacity to understand much less appreciate sarcasm.

    So what does Lim Kjam Put do when Monsterball pointed out his shortcoming in posting #11 by “That’s telling Najib off sarcastically and in style by Tunku Aziz”?

    He twisted and turned in posting #12 by saying “you ¾ ball, I am being sarcastic just like Tunku lah.”

    This is of course utter rubbish. He is being sarcastic to who? Not BN. The comments to be ”more honest and more to the point” were directed at Tunku. Yet Lim kam Put says he is being sarcastic when nothing he said has any of the three elements to qualify as sacasm.

    Which only shows that we have here a man who never admits he’s wrong even when he criticises others wrongly. There’s no remorse, no repentence, instead of a lot of justification and twisting of an argument like a salt fish brought back to life to show he had meant to be sarcastic when it never even occurred to him that there was sarcasm when he made the first rebuke of the Tunku’s opening statement.

    His admonishment of the Tunku to be more honest and to the point is better applied to he himself before he admonishes others. However he speaks with forked tongue like Mamakthir. When caught talking rubbish he turns around and says I have also meant to be sarcastic, or I deliberately want to provoke or joke etc How convenient! He thinks we’re fools or something…unlikje his “bright feathers”. Ha ha ha…

  15. #15 by Joshua on Monday, 3 May 2010 - 7:13 am

    Corruption at its worst already started in Sibu with another buy election and it is endless with – be end – yet to be in sight…sad..

    Can SIBU mean “death “4” or “SI” to barisan unity” in a setting without umno?

  16. #16 by monsterball on Friday, 7 May 2010 - 9:47 pm

    Thanks Jeffery.
    Let that braggart …Lim Suck Ass..keep making a fool of himself.
    Please continue to take care of this useless MCA toad.

You must be logged in to post a comment.